Tag Archives: Corner seat

Sitting at the Corner of the Table

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M: Me, I: Informant

Corner of the Table 

I: Never sit in the corner of a table if the table is square because um because if you are in the corner you won’t get married, things like that.

M: Oh no, that’s really good! How come? What was the background of that? How come?

I: Oh, I don’t know

M: you can’t sit on the corner of a table

I: Yeah I don’t know what the background was, that’s just what they always told us.

M: Is it only for unmarried girls or is it for unmarried boys too?

I: It was just, well it was only told to us girls. I don’t remember it being told to the boys

M: Gotcha. Did you believe that? Did you believe that one?

I: Um.. you know because we were growing up in the United States, not so much, and at that age I really wasn’t interested in getting married. *Laughs*So. But I remember her saying it

Context: She was taught this by her Peruvian family, but she had immigrated to the U.S. so she didn’t really believe this one as her new environment affected her beliefs.

Analysis: While she herself may have not believed it, others in her family did. This is reflective of the views of marriage and gender. This was geared towards girls as back then much value came from being married and thus the fear of not getting married was prevalent, which is why some of the people in her family didn’t sit in the corners of tables, ‘just in case.’ Additionally, there may be some phallic reference (protrusion of the table) here as marriage and loss of virginity are often very linked and that’s possibly a consideration as to why this was only geared towards girls. With the phallic imagery, this folklore could also be a result of the culture’s importance of virginity; if the corner of the table was the phallic symbol and represented a deflowering prior to marriage, that would be the reason why she won’t get married later.

Hungarian Superstition

Background about Informant:

Anna is a 22-year-old exchange student from Hungary, studying business at USC. She was born and raised in Budapest and has knowledge of many facts and traditions of Hungary.

General Description from Informant:

“There’s this superstition some people in Hungary believe – if a girl sits at the corner of the table that means she will never get married.”

Follow-up Questions:

  • Where/who did you learn this superstition from?
    • “My friends, girls in general. I think in elementary school, maybe while sitting in the cafeteria or something.”
  • What does it mean to you? Do you believe it’s true?
    • “I don’t believe it’s true and no one believes it’s true, but no one does it because you feel uncomfortable if you do it, because you never know – it could happen. Like, you know it’s a superstition, but you don’t know, why not be safe anyways.”
  • Where did it come from? What’s the history behind it?
    • “I’m assuming something from the countryside but I don’t know exactly what. Most of these superstitions come from the countryside.”
  • What do you think it symbolizes?
    • “Since it probably comes from countryside – and everyone wanted to get married early, and it’s all about the girl, it was a big shame to not get married, so came from the fear of not being married.”
  • Why is it only girls and not guys that can get the bad luck?
    • “Because guys were not afraid of not getting married.”

Analysis from Collector:

This is just one Hungarian superstition, which is also found in other Europian countries as well. The way Anna explained people’s thoughts about the superstition is in line with many superstitions – which is that usually they don’t explicitly believe in it, but they do acknowledge it enough to not do. The idea is, “why take any chances” with these superstitions.

I think Anna is right in thinking that it comes from the fear that women will not get married and where guys did not worry about not getting married. Through further research, I discovered this superstition is prevalent in many countries, but the exact meaning behind it is unclear.